Canada gives $50-mil­lion to UN Pales­tinian refugee agency that U.S. calls flawed

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - NEWS - MIKE BLANCHFIELD

Canada is con­tribut­ing $50-mil­lion to the United Na­tions Pales­tinian refugee agency – af­ter the United States de­cided to stop fund­ing what it called an “ir­re­deemably flawed” or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The new Cana­dian funds an­nounced on Fri­day will be al­lo­cated over two years to as­sist the health and ed­u­ca­tion ef­forts of the United Na­tions Re­lief and Works Agency for Pales­tine Refugees, or UNRWA.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion de­cided in Au­gust to with­draw US$300-mil­lion in sup­port for the UNRWA, end­ing the United States’ sta­tus as the largest donor for an or­ga­ni­za­tion that had been try­ing to help more than five mil­lion Pales­tinian refugees.

Is­rael has ac­cused the agency of be­ing bi­ased, fu­elling its con­flict with the Pales­tini­ans and pro­mot­ing ha­tred against the Jewish state.

Canada’s for­eign min­istry says the new funds will help bring sta­bil­ity to the re­gion by help­ing Pal- es­tini­ans cope with poverty, unem­ploy­ment and food in­se­cu­rity. But it also says the money will as­sist UNRWA with “its on­go­ing ef­forts to im­prove neu­tral­ity within the agency and its op­er­a­tions.”

Canada is ear­mark­ing $40-mil­lion to­ward the ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, health and liveli­hood needs of mil­lions of Pales­tinian refugees, es­pe­cially women and chil­dren. An­other $10-mil­lion is aimed at help­ing 460,000 Pales­tinian refugees in Syria and Le­banon.

The new Cana­dian funds come two weeks af­ter the Euro­pean Union pledged an ex­tra US$46mil­lion to UNRWA to sup­port its health and ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices.

In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Marie-Claude Bibeau said Canada’s new con­tri­bu­tion would im­prove lives and “pro­tect the hu­man dig­nity” of mil­lions of Pales­tinian refugees.

“This new fund­ing to UNRWA is ur­gently needed and it will bring some pre­dictabil­ity to the agency as the needs on the ground are in­creas­ing,” she said in a state­ment.

Is­rael, mean­while, has praised the U.S. de­ci­sion to cut UNRWA fund­ing, which the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said was an “ir­re­deemably flawed” or­ga­ni­za­tion when it an­nounced its de­ci­sion at the end of Au­gust.

Jared Kush­ner, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s son-in-law and his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s lead­ing Mideast ad­viser, said in an in­ter­nal e-mail pub­lished by For­eign Pol­icy mag­a­zine that the agency “per­pet­u­ates a sta­tus quo, is cor­rupt, in­ef­fi­cient and doesn’t help peace.”

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